Picking and Playing Mercy

Picking and Playing Mercy

Let’s talk Mercy.  On the surface, she seems to have a pretty simple kit.  Turns out, there’s more to Mercy than meets the eye.  Tucked within that seemingly-simple hold-left-mouse-button-and-win kit is actually a lot of nuance.  Playing mercy requires a lot of game sense and a great amount of positional and strategic thought.  First, let’s talk about why you would pick Mercy over another healer in specific teams or maps, and then we’ll end with some quick tips to bring your Mercy game to the next level.

Comps for Mercy

     Let’s discuss what kind of team Mercy fits into.  In her current state, Mercy has the highest consistent single-target healing in the game.  At 50 healing-per-second, Mercy’s HPS is second only to Ana, who heals for 75 HP per shot.  Ana can provide better burst healing than Mercy, but has to reload after a while, and you have to be able to hit your shots to actually do any healing at all.  Mercy’s tether negates any issues you might have healing a highly mobile teammate, and over time is a stronger healer than Ana.  Additionally, Mercy is fairly mobile, and the only support who can easily achieve a height advantage over the enemy team.

Mercy loves tanks.  Not only do tanks provide large health pools for her to heal up and charge her ultimate, but they also provide shields (figuratively and literally) for her to stand behind.  While a fairly mobile support, Mercy does lack self-defense tools other supports have, like sleep darts, discord orbs, and knockbacks.  The only way Mercy can fend off enemies reliably by herself is to jump to an ally across the room.  Because of this, teams with two tanks, especially those whose kits focus on protection like Reinhardt and Zarya, can benefit greatly by running a Mercy in the team as well.

Alternatively, Mercy fits well on a team with a single high-DPS hero such as Bastion, Pharah, or Soldier: 76.  If the player behind a hero like this is any good, it could be worth picking Mercy as a secondary support along with a Zenyatta or Lucio, and have Mercy follow that player and damage-boost him as much as possible.  An additional benefit to having a pocket Mercy behind a Pharah is that Mercy also has a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield, so she will be able to easily find teammates in trouble and get to them.

Map Selection

    Now that we’ve figured out what kind of team you want to play Mercy on, let’s talk about what maps Mercy thrives on, or rather what characteristics in maps she prefers.  Firstly, maps with lots of choke points are preferred, such as Hanamura, King’s Row, and Watchpoint: Gibraltar.  Any choke point means teams will be grouped up, making Mercy’s healing job easier, as well as raising the possibility of larger ults.  Another big thing that Mercy likes are overlooks that survey the battlefield, like the patio on point A of Hollywood, and pretty much everywhere on Hollywood.  These spots, normally reserved for snipers, are great spots for Mercy to station, especially if she has an ally next to her to fly back up to when her job below is done.

Maps where Mercy can struggle have lots of enclosed spaces where her mobility cannot be used to its highest potential.  Many King of the Hill maps such as Ilios: Ruins, or Lijiang Tower: Garden, as well as certain phases of other maps such as the first half of the payload portion of King’s Row are where Mercy players can struggle.  The tendency on these maps (or portions of maps) for area-of-effect abilities to threaten almost all of the available space means that Mercy can have a difficult time staying alive long enough to get that game-changing ult off.  If the team really wants a Mercy on these parts of maps, they should consider playing two tanks with enough shielding to keep Mercy relatively safe, like Zarya and Reinhardt, rather than offensive tanks like Winston and Roadhog.

Quick Tips

    Okay, so we have covered why you might play Mercy over another healer, what kind of team she fits into best, as well as some of her map-specific strengths.  Knowing all of this information, should you decide to pick and play Mercy, here are some quick tips to take your game to the next level:

  1. Use your Guardian Angel.  A lot of people do not realize how short the cooldown on Guardian Angel is.  At a two-second cooldown, Guardian Angel is an ability that can be spammed to turn Mercy into a surprisingly mobile target.  Often, by the time you activate GA, reach your target, and finish topping them off, the cooldown has refreshed and you’re ready to jump back to the back line where you are safe again.  Additionally, Guardian Angel’s cooldown is refreshed instantly when Mercy uses her ultimate, which means players with quick reflexes can fly into the middle of a group of slain teammates, ult, and immediately fly out again to a surviving teammate elsewhere.
  2. Use your pistol.  Mercy’s secondary weapon, the Caduceus Blaster, is a tool I do not see many players employing.  The blaster has zero recoil, perfect accuracy, and damage relevant to D.Va’s light blaster.  A lot of times, when Mercy gets jumped on by an enemy DPS, I see her using her staff to try and melee the attacker to death.  Newsflash: you can melee with the blaster too!
  3. Learn when a 1-2 man ult will be enough.  Sometimes playing Mercy you can feel like “I have to get a 5-man ult off or I’m not doing it right!”  This is totally wrong.  Sometimes reviving one or two players on your team will be just enough to get that extra oomph you need to defend that point or push that payload to the finish.  Sometimes, when your key tank or dps has been killed early, perhaps with an ult charged, that alone can turn the tide of a fight in your favor.  This isn’t something that you can set hard rules to, it’s just something you have to practice to get good at.
  4. Stay on the high ground.  This isn’t a Mercy-specific tip, but playing Mercy from high ground, whether that is the balcony on point A of Hollywood, or a Pharah whose pocket you can jump to, has some significant advantages.  First of all, it’s more difficult to target someone above you; many players have more difficulty aiming on the Y axis (up and down) than they do on the X axis (side to side).  Second, as Mercy, your job is to keep tabs on your team’s health and be able to move quickly to whoever is taking the most damage.  This is best achieved from high up where you will have more targets to jump to, and hopefully someone with you on the high ground to jump back to when you need safety.  Additionally, other heroes who play the high ground are often prime targets for damage-boosting, such as Soldier 76, Bastion, or Widowmaker, meaning you won’t be wasting your time whenever you’re stationed on the high ground.
  5. Communicate with your team.  This is possibly the most important part of playing Mercy (or any hero for that matter).  If you don’t use voice comms, start today.  As you’re topping off that Roadhog during a lull, or damage-boosting that soldier firing from behind Reinhardt’s shield, you can be calling out enemy positions to your team.  Do you see Genji hopping through the window on Hanamura?  Where did that Reaper teleport to?  Is your ultimate almost up?  These are a few of the things you can and should communicate to your team whenever you can, and will most certainly improve your play as a team.

And there you have it!  Now you have the tools both to figure out when and why you should be playing Mercy, and hopefully you’ve also learned something you can take into your next game to keep your team alive.  Some are some things that most people just picking up Mercy do not think about (I know I sure didn’t!) but will definitely improve your play.  Some of these tips you can implement today, and some may take some getting used to, but each one has value and are worth working at.  Now go out there and carry!